Healthcare was a major issue in the Democratic primaries, as it should be.
Since the pandemic, with 30 million unemployed and many with no insurance, it's even more important. It is vital that Medicare for All be adopted for the long-term welfare of the American people and our nation itself.
However, the only way that will happen is if progressive Democrats get their act together and sell single payer to the American public in Georgia, Texas and other red states. Winning over the blue states alone will not get it done, as we’ve seen for the last 80 years of trying. Democrats already support single payer.
Here are four essential aspects of Medicare for All that are not emphasized to Georgians, Texans and the American public, or understood by them, to the extent that they must be:
a. you keep your current providers (physicians, hospitals, nursing homes);
b. your providers will be private (not government) employees;
c. your insurance will be more comprehensive than what you have now; and
d. when all payments are considered (i.e. what you pay for private insurance and deductibles, etc. now), you will pay less overall (unless you are wealthy).
I was the first Director of Heath Planning for Georgia back in the 1970s. Back then, healthcare was 7% of GNP. Now it’s 18% versus 9% for OECD (advanced) nations. Money is being spent that should be going to education, infrastructure, research and so on. Due to our failure to restrain healthcare costs, other nations are far ahead of us in terms of investment in these key areas, a factor which will directly affect our long-term productivity and competitiveness.
As far as I can see, more government intervention in the healthcare sector, such as what is done in Europe and other democracies, is the only way to change this trajectory. Per capita health care costs are much lower in these nations whereas their morbidity and mortality figures are generally much better than ours.
Examining the latest OECD data reveals that our 2018 per capita cost for healthcare was $10,586. My grandparents immigrated here from France and Italy, which have a per capita cost of $4,965 and $3,428 respectively. Other nations are much lower, for example the UK at $3,138 and Israel at $2,780.
I have been studying and writing about Medicare for All for over a decade. Not everyone has the same definition of what it is and how it works, certainly not Biden or the many Democrats who were originally running for the nomination or the policy “expert” in the White House (per his misleading USA Today editorial awhile back).
I was in corporate planning, marketing and development for healthcare corporations, including in Texas where I worked closely with major Texas healthcare providers in Houston, Dallas, and elsewhere. I learned that you have to clearly articulate why someone should buy your vision, plan, product, and so on.
Some advocates of single payer do a very good job of marketing. Others do not, alienating independents and moderates vital to getting single payer passed. Opponents purposefully muddy the water, saying things like single payer is like VA (it isn’t), in order to protect entrenched interests (and campaign contributors) like for-profit insurance companies and Big Pharma. We can expect these obfuscation efforts to grow substantially between now and November.
If progressives like Bernie and Warren want to see change, they need to start selling single payer to the grass roots in Georgia, Texas and across the nation via these talking points.
If not, the general public in Georgia Texas and elsewhere in red states will continue to be confused every time a GOP conservative says that Medicare for All is “socialism” and or a Democrat moderate (like Biden) incorrectly says single payer is unaffordable and you will have to give up your private insurance policy for worse health insurance.
Jack Bernard, a retired SVP with a national corporation, was the first Director of Health Planning for Georgia. He was Chair of the Jasper County Commission and Republican Party. He Chaired the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia's Tax Committee. He is currently the Fayette County Vice-Chair of the Board of Health.